Netflix Bows To Saudis, Removes Content At Request Of Kingdom

Netflix has removed content by American comedian Hasan Minhaj from being broadcast within Saudi Arabia at the "request" of the Kingdom.

In his Netflix-based news/comedy show, Patriot Act, Minhaj voiced his opinion about the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who is widely believed to have been murdered at the order of Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. Minhaj called the murder "...the most unbelievable cover story since Blake Shelton won sexiest man alive." 

Minhaj also fleshed out political ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia, along with noting Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen and its push-back on women’s rights advocates.

His relatively innocuous take on what was arguably the most covered news story in the world for weeks this fall led Saudi regulators to request that the episode of his show containing it be removed in the country. Reportedly, the regulator cited law that "prohibits the production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers."

Netflix, trying to jeopardize any of its more than 100 million international subscribers, defended its actions by telling NPR: "We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request — and to comply with local law." Google, on the other hand, appears to have allowed the episode to still be accessible inside of Saudi Arabia via YouTube.

And now Minhaj says he has fears for his own safety, despite being an American citizen. The global opinions editor of the Washington Post, Karen Attiah, also offered criticism, calling Netflix's actions "quite outrageous".

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